Look Out for the Kerman Lions
In 2017, Kerman basketball had one of its best seasons in years. They went undefeated in NSL, won league, and had the talent to go to state. However their luck would run out when they lost at Madera South in the Semi-finals of last year’s Division Four Valley tournament. It seemed that heading into the next season losing their MVP David Rico would prove a large hurdle to overcome. However, heading into league play, they are showing that they are even more hungry for a valley title than last year’s team.
Despite losing Kerman’s all-time leading scorer, Kerman is showing that they are an even bigger contender than last year. Last year the team seemed to be a one dimensional team, revolving around David Rico. This year, they are a Swiss Army Team. They have made up all they lost and are incorporating multiple elements that no one knew were present last year. They are able to out rebound teams thanks to the height of junior Ezra Mendrin. On defense, they are able to shut a team down; at one point in the season, Ezra Mendrin was third in the nation in blocks. On the offensive side, Kerman is one of the the most threatening teams in the paint. Their biggest threat, another junior, Jacob Shubin has dazzled on the court with not just his physicality, but his ability to walk on air and throw down a dunk on occasion. When it comes to the three point shot, Kerman at times is as threatening from behind the arc as Golden State. Last year, it was David Rico running the show from the arc. This year, it is another Rico,his younger brother Daniel Rico, senior Hunter Macias, and junior Tom Helmuth that are nailing it from the arc. And all this production is only from the starters.
The biggest improvement has come from their bench. When they are called upon, the bench is able to produce. Seniors Eric Garcia, Lupe Puentes, and sophomore Gavin Layton are a splash trio of their own, not to mention Ryan Troutman who is a dual threat on both the boards and the arc. When some of the big men are called out for a break, senior Ricardo Parra can fill in for them in the Big man position. And no one can forget first year player Colton Smith, who brings his physical ability from the football field onto the courts.
The players are great, but none of this couldn’t have happened without the great coach they have. The commander of the team is Coach Tim Hurt. Hurt has been working with the team since a month and a half before they even started AAU basketball. He works with his team practically year-round. He is probably the best coach in the league because he knows his team is good, and he is not even afraid of any team that challenges the Lions. The Lions right now are 14-4 with their win against Washington Union. Two of those loses were in single digits losses to Roosevelt and Fresno High School. Against Roosevelt in their Kerman tournament, they put up a great outing, especially with two starters out due to SATs. Then against Fresno, they put up a great game against the third best team in the Central Valley, coming back from a 17 point deficit and closing the gap to just 5 points.
Kerman last year went 10-0 in league last year. This year, Coach Hurt is expecting no different, with the team already 7-0 in league . The only different result both he and the team want is for them to reach the section finals and ultimately to go beyond that and reach the goal of playing at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California for the Division IV Championship.